On November 1, Clarksburg, Maryland, broke ground on Phase 1 of a sewer extension project in its historic district. The project is the culmination of 15 years of advocacy efforts on the part of Patrick Darby, owner of Clarksburg’s Novel Books.
For years, it had been Darby’s goal to open a bookstore in the historic district, and he succeeded in opening Novel Books in 2011. However, inadequate infrastructure presented an obstacle to successfully running a business in the area. “The district has been crumbling for decades due to lack of infrastructure to improve properties,” explained Darby. “The failed septic systems were a critical first step in the process.”
Darby pushed for action on the issue, and he successfully lobbied Montgomery County to declare the district a health hazard, which it did five years ago. According to Darby, “It made the historic district a priority for infrastructure improvement. Ultimately, the county had to step in to provide funding for the sewer system.”
The county joined the sewer extension with plans to construct a new fire station in the area, which will eliminate residents’ and businesses’ current dependency on individual septic systems. “Over the past 12 years, Clarksburg has grown tremendously,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “This project supports the residents and businesses in the Clarksburg Historic District and provides the public infrastructure necessary for the future Clarksburg Fire Station #35.”
The approximately $2.9 million project is expected to be completed in six months.
Darby is also taking part in the design process for a planned bike path through the historic district. He has advocated for brick sidewalks, streetlights, and maple trees, which had historically lined the area’s streets. These features are now included in the county’s design plans.